Stay steady, avoid big highs, big lows

When I was a little girl, there were times when my brother and I would get into laughing wrestling matches. He was only 360 days my junior, and we were pretty even. Mom would holler out from somewhere, “Big laugh, big cry!” The weirdest thing was that she was right about 80 percent of the time. I paid attention.

In college, I took a psychology course and learned about “Big high, big low,” as I referred to it. The human body can be “on” socially and physically more than usual (big high), but it will need time of rest and less activity (big low) to balance itself. I observed a teacher who would push herself to be a great teacher and individualize her lessons. That takes a lot of planning time, so she got less sleep than she needed, but every Friday night, she would sleep around the clock.

The holidays are a great time for visiting with others, going places, staying up later and consuming more food and drink than normal. It pushes our bodies. Now we need to get back in balance. If you’re feeling a little more tired than usual, be kind to yourself, and rest a little more. Cut out doing what isn’t essential until you feel back to our normal self again. You have to take care of your body for it to do what you want it to do.

Eat the foods you know that your body tolerates well and that give you strength. If you don’t know what they are, find out. Meats are harder to digest than fish, well-chewed fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.

It takes a little work to get the full goodness from vegetables and fruits because their cells have cell membranes of cellulose, which our bodies can’t digest. It has to be broken down by heat, heavy chewing or pulverizing. If you heat it up, you kill the enzymes and many vitamins. These days people are blending kale and other dark greens with fruit or veggies in blenders that pulverize the food into a thick pulpy juice. It’s like chewing your food hundreds of times! Some people add protein supplements, or tofu. To make it creamy add a little avocado, lighter, a little ice!

Get some exercise, too. There are 10 ways that walking is good for you: “It strengthens your heart, lowers disease risk, keeps weight in check, helps prevent dementia and osteoporosis, tones your legs, bottom, stomach and arms, boosts your vitamin D levels, gives you energy and makes you happy.”

Maybe you are feeling a little more than just fatigued. Maybe you’re also a little blue. That may also be a result of the big high effect. People are energy generators. When we’ve been with a lot of people, especially those who care for us and are giving us energy in the form of love, it feels pretty good. It feels better than an artificial high. When they all leave, and we’re just left with our own energy, we experience a lower level of energy. We may miss the creativity of interesting conversation and exchange of ideas, the physical expressions of affection.

We may begin to miss the others, or one special person. If we keep thinking about what we’re missing we can get depressed. Depression is a normal feeling of sadness or unhappiness. It isn’t usually something that needs to be medicated away with powerful medications that have side effects unless we become unable to function. That’s called clinical depression and is determined by a doctor who may prescribe medicine.

The low feeling of depression can actually be helpful in our lives. Eckhart Tolle in his book, “The Power of Now,” was depressed for some time. He knew that it’s not the normal state for us, so he began to question things. One of the questions led him into an altered state that totally changed his life for the better.

Depression may make us want to be alone. Some alone time is good, because it can be used to help figure out what would really make us happy in our lives. We have to learn that we can’t expect others to change their lives to make us happy. We are responsible for how we feel. I’m always saddened when I read about how a teen loses a girlfriend or boyfriend and gets so depressed that they attempt or commit suicide.

They need to know that most teens, and probably most adults have had their boyfriends or girlfriends break up with them. They’re sad for awhile, but can remember the good things, and maybe even learn what worked and what didn’t work in the relationship and can apply that to new relationships. They end up happier in their new relationships. It is good to be with people, and not isolated.

Medical doctor Stephen Ilardi gave a Ted Talk on Depression. He states that, “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food-laden, sleep-deprived, frenzied pace of modern life.”

He’s written a book called “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to beat Depression without Drugs”. They are:

1. Physical Activity (Exercise).

He states that it’s more powerful than any medicine you can take, and he says that walking with others is one of the best forms.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

It’s anti-inflammatory to the brain. We need to keep Omega-3s and Omega-6s in balance, but the average American diet is full of Omega-6s, which is inflammatory.

3. Sunlight.

4. Healthy Sleep.

5. Anti-Ruminating Activity.

Ruminating means thinking deeply about something. He suggests that we “think less and do more.” Hobbies? Crafts? Arts and music?

6. Social Connection.

Being with loved ones puts the brakes on the stress effect. Hang out with your friends and family, those you feel comfortable with.

It isn’t rocket science, is it? It makes sense. Our bodies were originally meant to work at hunting and gathering for food, being outside a lot, eating fresh food, and sleeping more. No lights!

Perhaps it won’t be long before the “low” is feeling more balanced than ever. From that state, all kinds of wonderful things can happen. Your brain is working better and ideas can flow. Happy future!

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org

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